ROME—The faded striped socks on a woman whose legs were cut off below the knee, wrapped in cellophane and neatly packed into separate suitcases may provide the only clue to who she is. Her remains, and those of a dismembered man with a tattoo on what's left of his right forearm, were found in three muddy suitcases Monday and Tuesday in the Florentine hinterland below an overpass from which they were likely thrown.
Police originally thought the body parts were those of at least three victims, but in piecing the evidence together, they have a nearly complete corpse—without the head—of the man and most of the body of the woman. Police are now searching for a fourth suitcase that likely contains the woman's missing body parts which could help identify her or provide clues to who killed them.
An investigator with the Careggi Institute of Forensic Medicine investigative unit confirmed to The Daily Beast that they are working on the theory that the victims, who are white and appear to be between 40 and 60 years old, could be a couple. The location of the suitcases, some 100 meters apart, implies they could have been launched from a car moving slowly along the highway above, suggesting more than one person would have had to be involved. The macabre discovery was made by a 74-year-old retiree who was cutting weeds in a municipal garden. The land had been tilled in the spring, but the weeds had not been cut for two years, which means the suitcases could not have been there longer than that.
Police also say the lack of certain organs and the victims’ heads also suggests they could have been part of a satanic ritual, which is a favorite crime theory in Tuscany dating back to the Monster of Florence serial killings between 1968 and 1985 that ended as mysteriously as they began. During that time, eight couples were murdered as they had sex in their cars. The women's vaginas were cut from their bodies and never found.
Police say the recent suitcase victims were most certainly killed and cut up in a house since they had no shoes or coats and their severed limbs had no debris consistent with being dismembered outdoors. “Whoever dissected the bodies took care in packing them,” an investigator told a local reporter on the scene. Each of the remains was wrapped in cellophane and tightly bound with adhesive tape.
Autopsies are being conducted but police say both victims appear to have been stabbed in the throat before being decapitated with an industrial saw or one used to cut firewood. The remains were found a few hundred yards from the Sollicciano prison fence, though there are no surveillance cameras or lights.
Police say that a couple who lived in the area disappeared in 2015, but the murders seem more recent than that. The couple’s son is in the nearby prison on drug charges and the daughter of the couple says she cannot be sure her father had a tattoo.